Pre-Pharmacy Sciences and Studies

Pre-pharmacy sciences and studies can prepare you for a career as a pharmacist, pharmacy technician or sales representative. Read on to learn more about career and degree options to determine if this is a good fit for you.

Is Pre-Pharmacy Sciences for Me?

Career Overview

Pharmacists primarily provide drugs to patients suffering from illness or injury. If you're interested in the field, you'll need to learn what drugs to administer, how large doses should be, how drugs might interact with each other and what side effects are possible. To pursue a doctoral program in pharmacy, you must fulfill certain entry-level or pre-pharmacy requirements, which you can do by earning an undergraduate degree in chemistry or biology; regular consultations with a student advisor will help you stay on track. Most pharmacists and pharmacy aides and technicians work in clean, well-lit facilities and are on their feet the majority of the day.

Job Duties

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), pharmacists are responsible for filling people's prescriptions. Pharmacy technicians and aides help pharmacists prepare medications, provide customer service, label bottles, answer phones and count tablets. Pharmaceutical sales representatives sell a company's product to healthcare providers, including doctors, dentists and pharmacists. Science technicians conduct research to develop and test new medicines (www.bls.gov).

Employment and Salary Information

The BLS projected that between 2012 and 2022, employment of pharmacists and pharmacy aides was expected to increase by an average rate nationwide between 2012 and 2022, with a faster-than-average growth in jobs projected for pharmacy technicians during the same period. An average increase in employment opportunities was also expected for wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives, as well as biological and chemical technicians, through 2022.

As reported by the BLS in May 2013, the average annual salary of a pharmacist was $116,500, while pharmacy technicians and aides earned an average of $30,840 and $24,510 respectively. As of May 2013, biological technicians and chemical technicians who were employed in pharmaceutical manufacturing earned corresponding average salaries of $50,530 and $47,090 a year. During the same period, the average annual salary for a wholesale and manufacturing representative specializing in drugs and druggist sundries was $88,200 (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in Pre-Pharmacy Sciences?

Educational Requirements

If you want to become a pharmacy technician or aide, you can earn an associate's degree in the field or complete on-the-job training, according to the BLS. However, if you want to become a pharmacist, you must first earn an undergraduate degree that meets the admissions requirements for a Doctor of Pharmacy program. You can earn most of these credits by completing a bachelor's degree program in biological sciences or biochemistry, but you'll need to talk to an advisor to make sure you're meeting all of the requirements.

Your coursework should include topics in general and organic chemistry, biochemistry, immunology and microbiology. You'll also study calculus, physics and statistical analysis. With pre-pharmacy training, you can also become a pharmaceutical sales representative or a biological scientist.

Doctor of Pharmacy Programs

Some pharmacy schools require the Pharmacy College Admission Test. At other schools, you can meet the admission requirements by earning a bachelor's degree in a relevant field of study or by enrolling in pre-pharmacy science courses, which can be completed in as little as two years. Experience working in a pharmacy as a technician or completing a field internship could also be beneficial.

Doctor of Pharmacy programs generally take four years to complete. Once enrolled, you'll conduct research, participate in advanced labs, listen to lectures and complete an internship. Coursework may cover the risks of drug use, pharmaceutical ethics and laws, dosage management and advanced pharmacology. After graduation, you can take the series of exams necessary to earn your license and become a practicing pharmacist.

Required Skills

According to the BLS, to work in a pharmacy-related area, you should have a strong scientific background, pay close attention to details, interact well with others and be very conscientious in your duties. In this field, a small mistake can have serious ramifications.

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